Down by the River Side!

Lazy river — the Nene in Northamptonshire

Standing on a bridge in the early morning listening for nightingales
Checking for cattle egrets.
Noticing the first midges of the year.

All the time watching for the blue flash of a kingfisher:

Busy River — the Afon Hafren (Severn) near it’s source.

Looking for dippers and grey wagtails.

and now calm but powerful.

220 miles further down stream — the Severn Estuary on the English side at Clevedon. We are looking for lunch.

Magic river– Cwm Tydu in West Wales

Deep in the temperate rainforest looking for the way out!
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Not easy walking!

What’s have we here?

Perfect timing as the green fly appear an odd looking ladybird on the roses.

I go and look him up — how do you know he is male? I hear you ask.

This is how.

But his gender would not be given away by his colouring. This is one of the most variably marked species of ladybird — the harlequin ladybird Harmonia axyridis — it has many forms. The female (I hope I am not making a false assumption here) is f. succinea, orange or red with 20-22 black spots and a white pronotium, the plate over the thorax, with a black M on it — you can see that quite clearly. The male in f. spectabilis, black with four red spots and again 2 big white splodges on his otherwise black pronotium. There are completely red ones and black ones and all sorts of variations. The first thing you notice is that they are bigger than our native species.

And they are bad news for native species as they are very successful — not surprising. These have appeared first and, as you can see, are getting on with the job — very active and difficult to photograph as they would not stand still!

Native to eastern Asia they are voracious predators and were evidently introduced to control aphids on commercial crops here in Britain, Europe and also North America .

A threat to diversity but good news for the roses.


Plea to broadcasters!

A quote from my letter today to the BBC ‘Not a complaint! The news is full of premonitions of biblical famine, not without cause, and mental health doom. During lock-down your organisation promoted fitness — good for mental health — bravo. How about a swift response to the news with items on planting vegetables — need experts (you have plenty) on popular magazine shows to tell us if it is not to late for spuds and what we can safely plant and how. You have such retail power that this will immediately be responded to by the supermarkets with seeds and compost. We all need a bit of a push to grow things and share our gluts with the food banks. Get a celeb who gardens to endorse it… Go on!’

Local urban front garden — you can do it too!

The trouble with being a superhero

The trouble with being a superhero

Click on link above to read my article published recently in pulse. It is a confessional piece

but is resonating with younger members of my erstwhile profession — seems nothing changes!

Motivated by a desire to promote my book —

but now maybe opening another door — brace yourselves for a few more lifestyle articles.

adventure, British history, Communication, Cornwall, Entertaining

Running the Helston Branch Line

Film by Bill Carr featuring his dad, my daughter’s partner, Pete. The project is part of Bill’s university course and takes ‘helping with the homework’ to a whole new level!

Seven minutes and well worth watching!